Abstract

This study investigates the systematic position of some species of the genus Saccocoelioides Szidat, 1954, and the species Culuwiya cichlidorum Aguirre-Macedo and Scholz, 2005, from North and Middle America using new morphological data and partial sequences of 2 nuclear genes, the large subunit and the internal transcribed spacer 2 from ribosomal DNA. In total 74 specimens representing 4 species of Saccocoelioides (41 of Saccocoelioides sogandaresi, 3 of Saccocoelioides chauhani, 6 of Saccocoelioides lamothei, and 12 of Saccocoelioides olmecae) plus 12 specimens of Culuwiya cichlidorum were analyzed. The phylogenetic analyses inferred with maximum likelihood method and Bayesian inference showed that the 4 species of Saccocoelioides formed a clade divided into 4 subclades representing each species. In addition, 7 specimens sequenced from the type host and locality of Culuwiya cichlidorum were nested in 2 clades: the first clade with specimens of C. cichlidorum from Costa Rica, and the second clade with specimens of S. sogandaresi from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Our analyses suggest that C. cichlidorum should be reallocated into Saccocoelioides, as was originally designated Saccocoelioides cichlidorum n. comb., is restricted to Nicaragua and Costa Rica and associated with cichlid fishes. In contrast, the specimens identified previously as Culuwiya cichlidorum from the coast of Gulf of Mexico by Aguirre-Macedo and Scholz belong to S. sogandaresi, which has a wide distribution that extends from Galveston Bay (U.S.A.) in Gulf of Mexico to Atlantic and Pacific slopes associated with poeciliid and cichlid fishes. New morphological data derived from scanning electron microscopy photographs of the body surface show a characteristic pattern of spination that is useful to distinguish between S. cichlidorum n. comb. and S. sogandaresi.

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